Primarily known as an actor early in his career, John Cassavetes would later be regarded as one of the most daring and influential filmmakers of the 20th Century, attributed by many as the artist who shaped the current definition of independent film. As a young performer, Cassavetes found his early roles in mainstream productions like "Edge of the City" (1957) creatively unsatisfying. Determined to prove he could do better, he embarked on a three-year odyssey that yielded his debut as a writer-director - the racial identity drama "Shadows" (1959). Though not a commercial hit, "Shadows" earned Cassavetes enough critical acclaim to attract Hollywood, although the resulting films left him chaffing under the control of the studio system. In response, Cassavetes created a system of his own - one in which he would act in major productions like "The Dirty Dozen" (1967) and "Rosemary's Baby" (1968) in order to fund independent endeavors of his own. Over the course of the next 15 years Cassavetes wrote, directed and occasionally performed in such thought-provoking works as "Faces" (1968), "Husbands" (1970), "Minnie and Moskowitz" (1971), "A Woman Under the Influence" (1974), "The Killing of a Chinese Bookie" (1976), "Gloria" (1980) and "Love Streams" (1984). Each film featured some combination of his frequent acting collaborators, including wife Gena Rowlands, Peter Falk, Ben Gazzara and Seymour Cassel. While professional acting was a mere means to an end, Cassavetes pursued his own artistic truth and provided audiences with new experiences through his deeply personal films.